Strange and funny first-principles-y conversation with wife: if you wanna fix problems, you need to have some kind of model in your mind for how problems get fixed. I think I mostly take for granted that I have this in my “operating system” and rarely think about it explicitly
There are many ways to think about problems, I think my general thing is... you experience some kind of frustration, you try and guess what the source of the frustration is, and things can go in many directions from there, many ways of addressing, resolving, mitigating...
sometimes it can be that the experience of frustration is itself something that can be resolved; maybe there’s something wrong with your sensors, or with the way you process the information coming through your sensors - beliefs, assumptions. Or maybe it’s something outside of you
Sometimes it’s something that can be easily addressed by moving something around, like maybe your windows are dirty and you need to clean your windows. Easy. Maybe your energy levels are low- that’s more complicated, you have to investigate, develop a theory, test a hypothesis
often when you dig into any significant problem deeply enough you’ll find that it’s connected to lots of things - with energy levels it could be your diet, which could be affected by being a picky eater, and you might have some childhood issues to resolve there
personal things are often intertwined with social things- maybe your childhood issues had to do with school, and/or your peer group, which may be influenced by broader cultural things. Here you have to be careful to be clear abt what’s helpful to address your initial frustration
A common trap people seem to fall into is they conflate all the problems, which can compound their frustration into something unmanageable. Personal frustrations with daily life situations get intertwined with large scale societal problems that may not be resolved in our lifetime
In my experience it’s important for people to feel like they have some amount of influence over their lives. This is largely a framing and project management problem. It’s about what you choose to focus on, how you define success and meaning
A lot of people exert a tremendous amount of energy trying to solve a problem within some frame that isn’t actually addressing their frustration. Escapism, workaholism, etc. It’s always a good idea to periodically sit down and ask yourself what you’re doing + why you’re doing it
There’s a spectrum of possible relationships you could have with problems themselves. Some find problems to be scary, overwhelming, frustrating, painful, tedious. Others find them to be interesting, challenging, compelling. You can move the slider on this. It’s about framing
loosely, if you’re frustrated/overwhelmed by life, it’s often helpful to catalog your problems and look for a manageable one to solve. If you’re bored, it’s worth trying to find something ambitious & challenging to do that will stretch you. Solving problems in flow state is 🔥🔥
You might not be able to end racism or sexism or climate change anytime soon. But you can mentor young people. You can fight for more and better representation. You can help raise awareness about large and wicked problems, which is part of making them more solvable
When thinking/worrying about large scale problems, you should to appreciate that large problems require a lot of coordination from a lot of people to solve. So if you’re serious about contributing, it helps to think about how other people can use, share & interface with your work
Oh- one of the most simple and powerful ways to navigate the problems of life is to realize that you are very unlikely to be the first person to have a problem. We can always learn from our predecessors who had similar problems. Covid is not our first pandemic, for eg
generally speaking I think a lot of people are conditioned to think that they have to deal with their problems privately and in isolation. you don’t! you don’t necessarily have to be all public about it, but you can seek out trusted peers to work through things with together
a concept my ex-boss introduced to me that I like is the “desired end-state”. Simply, what is the outcome that you want? What specifically has to happen in material reality that will satisfy you? (Once you write this down you can interrogate and analyze this productively)
“I will be satisfied when I have $1M in the bank” - okay sure- tho why exactly? What does the money do? What do you want to buy, or have the option of buying? What are the emotional realities you seek? Security? Prestige? It’s worth being honest and precise with yourself abt this
“I will be satisfied when I get a gf” - sure but why? What are the assumptions you have about what it means to have a partner? What does it mean for you narratively? Are your friends/family involved in this thinking? It’s normal to want companionship- it’s also cool to introspect
The better you understand your motivations & frustrations, the better positioned you will be to make good decisions that address your problems- elegantly, creatively.

This works with other people too! The better I’ve gotten at it, the more people seem to wanna associate with me
broadly speaking, it’s lucrative at many levels to be a person who develops a reputation for being good at dealing with problems and solving them well. This is obvious to me, but I’ve since learned it’s not obvious to everyone. People will bring you their problems: opportunities

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More from @visakanv

17 Nov
if you did a quick impromptu todo list on a piece of paper, how do you prefer to mark items as done?
feel like you could put together an alignment chart with some of the replies here
Read 5 tweets
17 Nov
i've started to encounter people talking about me like I was born micro-famous. 😂 I'm the minority son of a garbage collector, I never went to college. I don't think I've done any devil's bargain stunt bullshit. I'm just an earnest nerd publishing and replying for 20+ years
If you look at my volume of output vs my follower count, I actually have one of the worst tweet-to-follower-conversion rates amongst people in the 20k range. Something like 5 tweets for 1 follow. Hardly anybody gave a shit about me for the first 15+ years I was extremely online
I'm not looking for sympathy or pity or praise or anything of the sort – I am very happy and comfortable with the way my life is, and the decisions I have made, and so on. I'm just sharing this for people who continue to misunderstand how the game works
Read 6 tweets
16 Nov
non-contrarian optimists are “general good vibes” friendly folk

contrarian pessimists are disillusioned nerds

optimistic contrarians are friendly ambitious nerds, and indeed about 1 in 1,000 in nascent state, 1 in 100,000 blossom, 1 in 10,000,000 at final form
Final form FANs include: Bertrand Russell
Read 11 tweets
16 Nov
The devil’s bargain on social media is to make generalized pronouncements about/for other people. You’ll get more engagement for it but it will likely drive you mad. I sometimes worry that people don’t appreciate the costs of this choice
The inverse (angel’s bargain?) is to be locally, specifically helpful, kind and supportive to individual people. The value of this too appears to be broadly underappreciated
The mistake I could make here would be to chide and shame other people for not doing enough. That’s the devil’s bargain again. The correct move is to continue to be kind and supportive to more individuals so that they go on to do the same for others
Read 4 tweets
16 Nov
this is the danger of becoming too successful too young too fast: your honest assessment of reality will mislead you into thinking that everything you touch turns to magic because you have a magic touch
I actually sympathise- most people will have no idea what it’s like to be in that sort of headspace living that sort of life. It’s a psychedelic reality, and for young/inexperienced players without good mentors and peers, it can drive you mad
My advice for these dudes would be to read Dune (for starters)
Read 4 tweets

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